A large and enthusiastic crowd turned out for the launch of In Love And War, the ninth novel by Lesley Lokko at Love Books recently.
Lokko’s latest story concerns the relationship between two very different women: Lexi Sturgis, a war correspondent who keeps everyone at arm’s length, and TV executive Jane Marshall, who badly needs a good story to rescue her flagging career. These two women are thrown together when a young British woman is kidnapped in Egypt and they embark on a journey that will change both their lives completely.
Love Books owner Kate Rogan began the evening by welcoming the author back to South Africa. Lokko trained as an architect, but always dreamed of writing. She now divides her time between London and South Africa, where she is Associate Professor of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg.
Lokko was in conversation with Hugh Fraser, also an architect, who started the discussion with a toast to Nadine Gordimer and to Lokko’s father, who also passed away recently.
Fraser said he wondered whether the character of Lexi was inspired in any way by Martha Gellhorn, war correspondent and wife of Ernest Hemingway. Lokko explained that she had a friend who knew Lara Logan, a South African journalist who is now the chief foreign affairs correspondent for CBS News, who was assaulted in Tahrir Square during the revolution in Egypt, and that she in fact inspired the character. The author also noted the increase in the representation of women in unusual professions in many modern novels.
The conversation turned to Gordimer and how Lokko, who grew up in Ghana, found out about South Africa by reading Gordimer in her teens. She said she found the geographical descriptions of Johannesburg very powerful and so many details were familiar to her when she finally came to the city.
Asked why she was not a practising architect, Lokko said she was not a practical person, but that because architecture is a lateral discipline it enables her to teach and write without having to practise. She said the study of architecture has also given her the ability to be involved in a wide range of things simultaneously. Lokko has incorporated the visual aspect of her training into her writing, making diagrams and pictographics to keep track of her plots and characters. She feels she couldn’t write without having gone through her architectural training as it changed the way she thinks.
When asked by Fraser what fascinates her about South Africa, Lokko replied that she finds the country an amazing place where so many issues are close to the surface, which is both maddening and exhilarating. She first worked here as a trainee architect in 1992-94 and she kept a diary containing the many stories she heard around the braai and other social settings, and these became the basis for her first novel.
On her writing process, Lokko said she is a disciplined writer. Her agent advised her once to treat writing as if it were a job, so she gets ready for work every morning and sits down to write. “Also, I’m single, so I can shut myself off to write,” she said.
The discussion ended with a question and answer session and a book signing accompanied by drinks and snacks provided by the Service Station restaurant next door and Joostenberg wines from the estate owned by Rogan’s brother-in-law.
Books and Books invites you to join them as they celebrate Women’s Month with the launch of PJ Powers’ book, Here I Am, co-written with Marianne Thamm, at Kensington Square, Durban North.
The event, hosted by Dulcé Café, takes place on Thursday, 7 August and starts at 5:30 for 6 PM. Powers will be there to share her story.
Don’t miss this!
University of KwaZulu-Natal Press and the Centre for Indian Studies in Africa cordially invite you to the launch of The End of the Developmental State? edited by Professor Michelle Williams.
Williams will be joined at the launch by contributors, Dr TM Thomas Isaac and Dr Vishwas Satgar.
Don’t miss it!
- Date: Monday, 11 August 2014
- Time: 5:00 PM for 5:30 PM
- Venue: Graduate Seminar Room
South West Engineering Building,
Wits University East Campus | Map
- Guest Speaker: Dr TM Thomas Isaac, Dr Vishwas Satgar
- RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org, 033 260 5226
The wettest winter weather did not deter Cape Town’s poetry lovers from attending the launch of the latest exciting anthology from small independent publishers, Deep South (distributed by UKZN Press): In the Heat of Shadows: South African poetry 1996-2013.
Denis Hirson, who edited In the Heat of Shadows, explained to a packed Book Lounge that this collection followed on where The Lava of This Land: South African Poetry 1960-1996 had left off. He celebrated the fact that almost half of the participants in the anthology had joined him that evening to share their poems.
Hirson said it was a challenge to find a way to house so many powerful voices together in such a short space of time and also acknowledged the significant role that the funding provided by the National Arts Council of South Africa (NAC) had played in the publication of the book. He mentioned, too, the significant influence that the South African Season in France had been, in 2012 and 2013.
This exchange of cultural events between France and South Africa had been a rich encounter, complemented by an invitation which saw 14 South African poets head to France to participate in The South African focus at the Biennale of Poets of Val-de-Marne. These poets were: Kgositsile Keorapetse, Vonani Bila, Robert Berold, Ronelda Kamfer, Rustum Kozain, Karen Press, Joan Meterlerkamp, Gabeba Baderoon, Mongane Wally Serote, Bulelani Zantsi, Finuala Dowling and Ari Sitas. “In France this poetry is admired, appreciated and applauded by audience after audience,” Hirson said.
He also spoke of the experience of choosing poems for this particular anthology and of its sister publication, an anthology of South African poems that had been translated and published in France, Pas de blessure, pas d’histoire: Poèmes d’Afrique du Sud 1996-2013. In the Heat of Shadows was constructed in the wake of this anthology. Hirson said, “While I was thinking about which poems to put into this anthology, I was also thinking about the poems that would work beyond South Africa, in France, where I am often involved in readings with an actress and saxophone player.”
Hirson, who was involved in the translation of some of these poems, said one of the criterion for selection were poems that would “work” for both local and French audiences. “I’m well aware that another anthology, just as strong as this, could have been put together. But these were the poems that spoke to me at the time I made the selection,” he said. He welcomed Antjie Krog, who opened the reading. She was followed by Ingrid de Kok, Karen Press, Rustum Kozain, Karen Press, Robert Berold, Gabeba Baderoon, Toni Stuart, Finuala Dowling, Jim Pascual Agustin, Nathan Trantraal and Ari Sitas.
In conclusion, Hirson observed that South African poets are – in the words of Czeslaw Milosz – “participants and witnesses of the political process”, or engaged in a quest for identity that often involves their ancestors. He suggested that there were poets in the post-apartheid dispensation who “expand time and space”. He observed that in the many different kinds of poems the human beings and the relationship between them form a coherent essence, whether the poetry is narrative or not.
“Central to this poetry, to what the situation has given to the poets, is what the poets have given to this place,” he said. He concluded by expressing his hope that people elsewhere would be applauding this poetry in the years to come.
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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted from the launch using #livebooks:
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Tafelberg en Graffiti Boeke nooi jou graag na die bekendstelling van Geloof anderkant Sondag deur Julian Müller.
Die geleentheid vind plaas op Donderag, 14 Augustus en sal om 18:00 vir 18:30 begin.
Müller sal met Wilhelm Jordaan gesels oor sy nuwe boek.
Moet die nie misloop nie!
- Datum: Donderdag 14 Augustus 2014
- Tyd: 18:00 vir 18:30
- Plek: Graffiti Boeke,
Winkel 4, Lynnwood Bridge
Pretoria | Padkaart
- Gespreksgenoot: Wilhelm Jordaan
- RSVP: email@example.com, 012 348 1835
Roger Ballen, whose most recent book is Asylum of the Birds, is holding a photographic exhibition at the CIRCA Gallery from 31 July.
This retrospective exhibition will cover three decades of Ballen’s work, from Dorps in 1986 to Asylum of the Birds, which was launched in April.
The show will also include two of Ballen’s films: Die Antwoord’s “I Fink U Freeky” and the recent short film made to coincide with Asylum of the Birds.
- Date: From Thursday, 31 July to Wednesday, 27 August 2014
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Saturday 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM
- Venue: CIRCA Gallery
2 Jellicoe Ave
Johannesburg | Map
- More information: CIRCA Gallery
- RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org, 011 7884 805